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Meet the Colombian Scientist Expert in Shark Studies

Catalina Pimiento is a Colombian paleobiologist who has managed to decipher the greatest secrets of the megalodon shark, registered as the largest in history.

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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This species is known as Otodus megalodon, which means "big tooth." The body of this now-extinct shark could weigh more than 50 tons, which is close to the measurements of the white shark today. Its bite would equal 12 tons of pressure, far from the strongest bite of sharks today.

The journal Scientific Reports published a study that sheds new insights into this fascinating and enigmatic species. Among the authors of the study is the name of the Colombian biologist Catalina Pimiento.

The young marine biologist, born in Bogotá, is considered one of the main researchers of this species. Interested in the animals that live under the sea, she discovered her professional career at the age of 15. At that time, her father gifted her a subscription to National Geographic magazine, and on the cover was an illustration of the huge white shark.

In 2001, Pimiento began studying biology at the Universidad Javeriana. Upon graduation, she did her internship doing whale shark censuses on Isla Contoy, in the Mexican Caribbean. At the end of her job, she went to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute to begin a new phase of her work as a research assistant in the marine laboratory.

The discoveries in Panama and the work of other colleagues made Pimiento decide to thoroughly investigate the largest sharks recorded in history. One of her first discoveries was that the megalodon fossils found in Panama were babies. After some studies, she realized that this was because there was a breeding area for this animal on that part of the planet.

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She traveled to the University of Florida to do a master's and a doctorate in megalodons. Since then, she became obsessed with them. Pepper needed to know when, how, and why this species disappeared from the face of the earth. Her notes led her to generate several hypotheses about what the reproductive and feeding habits of the megalodon were like.

Pimiento has spearheaded research for the Berlin Museum of Natural History, the University of Zurich, and the University of Swansea. She has won scholarships such as Marie Curie, Humboldt, and a premium scholarship from the Swiss government. Today, the marine biologist studies gigantism in current sharks such as the whale shark.

Through the analysis of fossils, the Colombian biologist discovered that this species became extinct approximately two or three million years ago. According to the newspaper El Espectador, the scientist found that the megalodons were mesothermal, that is, they were distributed throughout the world in hot and cold waters. Thanks to this discovery, she showed that the disappearance of this shark was not due to changes in water temperature, as previously speculated.

Today she continues to study the giants, and her goal is to find the relationship between extinctions that have already occurred and those that could occur in the future.

Based on his study, Pimiento led the creation of a list of marine megafauna species that urgently need conservation action. Her dream is to continue his work to preserve species through her love for paleontology.

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